BOWIE, Md - The Double-A Bowie Baysox' pursuit of their first-ever Eastern League championship begins tonight when the Baysox host Akron at Prince George's Stadium in Game 1 of a best-of-five series. The winner of this series will meet the Trenton-Reading winner in the championship series that starts next Tuesday.
The Baysox' first season was 1993 and this is the team's 20th, but they have never won the Eastern League title. In fact, Bowie has never even won a playoff series, losing in the first round in 1993, 1994, 1997 and 2008. They are 7-12 all-time in playoff games.
Add to that the fact that Bowie is just 6-13 this season versus Akron, and they lost five of the six series between the teams with one other tied at 2-2. But the teams last played in late July. Bowie went 23-11 in its last 34 games starting August 1. The Baysox finished second in the Western Division at 78-64 to Akron's 82-59.
O's top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy will make his fourth Double-A start tonight. He is 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA in 16 2/3 Baysox innings with 14 hits allowed along with eight walks and 13 strikeouts.
The Orioles have wanted Bundy to work on his secondary pitches throughout this year and Bowie manager Gary Kendall said nothing should change in that regard for Bundy, even though this is a playoff game tonight.
"What he has been able to do by mixing his pitches and trying to develop them has made him effective," Kendall said. "So I don't see us having to deviate from that plan. You want him to keep pursuing and working on the things that have made him successful here and will at the next level. The game will be not be called any differently by (catcher Brian) Ward then it has in the past."
Bundy is 9-3 with a 2.08 ERA at three levels this year. Over 103 2/3 innings, he has given up 67 hits with 28 walks, 119 strikeouts and a .186 average against.
He has seen him for just those three starts, but what does Kendall think Bundy needs to work on?
"Just the consistency of his command at times," Kendall said. "Being able to locate the pitches in the spots he wants to. For the most part he has gotten ahead (in the count) but there are times when he elevates a pitch or two that he wishes he could have back. Just to refine his pitches and the location that you need to move to the next level. Be able to use any pitch in any count, which he is capable of doing when he is on."
Orioles' 2012 first-round pick pitcher Kevin Gausman was added to the Bowie roster today. It is not certain yet how he will be used in this series. There was some talk of his pitching in relief tonight, but that doesn't seem too likely now.
To keep him in the starting role that is used to, he could get the Game 3 start in this series and after pitching a few innings be followed to the mound by Jake Pettit.
Right-hander Mike Wright will start tomorrow's Game 2. If the series goes to Game 4, Eddie Gamboa is the potential starter there with Tim Bascom for a Game 5 if necessary.
Tonight's Baysox lineup:
CF - Antoan Richardson
SS - Jonathan Schoop
LF - Ty Kelly
DH - Robbie Widlansky
1B - Rhyne Hughes
2B - Buck Britton
3B - Zelous Wheeler
RF - Ronnie Welty
C - Brian Ward